Weekly Wrapup: MMJ Dispensary Progress Hits ‘Yellow Lights’ in CA, MD, IL and CT

Image for wrapup of medical marijuana news
By Anne Holland   

In the week after federal authorities moved against all 63 marijuana retailers in Santa Ana CA, politicians across the US struggled to define local MMJ regulations in the hopes of avoiding a similar fate.

On April 18, the feds treated Santa Ana dispensaries differently depending on their adherence to local laws. Three properties, already cited by Santa Ana for violating local laws, were hit with federal asset forfeiture lawsuits.  However, the remaining properties, which were in good standing with the city, only received federal letters of warning.

Local politicians in many states may see this as a sign that they should take a heavy-regulation approach to MMJ availability, under the premise that a well-controlled state market is less likely to attract the most draconian of the possible actions available to the DEA.

Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein dubbed this regulatory tactic a “yellow light” approach to state marijuana laws. Maryland is one of several states following this path. Although the state legislature approved a medical marijuana measure earlier this month, patients will have to wait until late 2015 – at the earliest – for various committees and institutions to actually make MMJ available.

Likewise, the CT Regulations Review Committee rejected a key regulation last Tuesday which is necessary to launch the state’s MMJ industry. The reason for the rejection and resulting delay: to allow more time for study. Although the committee is scheduled to meet again on the issue this summer, dispensaries may not be able to open until 2014.

Although MMJ regulations are gathering steam in CA, state senate leader Darrell Steinberg went on record last week saying it could take until 2015 for the legislature to agree on new regulations. If they can happen quickly enough, improved CA regulations may have a huge effect outside that state’s borders. The state is frequently cited by regulators in other states as the poster child for ‘what to avoid’.

Illinois State Rep. Mike Tryon (R), a former naysayer who voted in favor of a medical cannabis law bill passed by the House earlier this month, explained that the bill’s stringent requirements had changed his mind. “I never would have voted for a bill that would have re-created what they have in California.”

The biggest takeaway from the fed actions and the various state responses: cannabis remains risky business. For all the opportunities and hopes that the federal government would moderate their approaches, there is clearly still an appetite at the national level to constrain the industry. 

In the meantime, some states hit ‘red lights’ on marijuana-related issues last week.  Most famously, a CO court upheld employers’ right to fire staff for marijuana use, even if it occurred outside of working hours.  And, most infamously, the Florida House voted to ban bongs by an overwhelming marjority of 112 to 3.

3 comments on “Weekly Wrapup: MMJ Dispensary Progress Hits ‘Yellow Lights’ in CA, MD, IL and CT
  1. Worn Out on

    I am so tired of all the gov. causing problems with the medical marijuana. Just about every pill a doctor can prescribe has such terrible side effects that it makes it not worth the risk of taking. Can you imagine if the Pharma co. had not been sued, they would never give any negative info about their products. MMJ has already been proven to help with so many ailments. Why don’t they just let it be legal? I am so tired of suffering from a bad auto accident in which I was hit at 65 mile an hour and knocked over 1/10 of a mile down the road. My pain doctor does drug test from 2 to 6 times a year and gets paid $150.00 for each test by worker’s comp or medicare. This is all a racket and people like me are just a paycheck to everybody involved in our so called gov. approved treatment. Which decides what doctor or surgery or procedure they will accept to treat you. I just really wish for one day all of congress including the President would experience pain at the level that it makes them sick to their stomach and causes nausea and vomiting and then maybe they might say ok, lets let the people that have this severe pain have MMJ.

  2. Kevin Jones on

    All Medical Marijuana laws moving forward, if patients are to have access and safety, must include home grow. The feds have stated clearly that they are not focused on individual users of medical or recreational cannabis. But, they have also demonstrated that they will apply federal law and resources to any commerce related participation in state medical marijuana laws and processes.

    Since the money in the medicine seems to draw the feds, then in order to protect patient access, medical laws must allow for access without a business system as the only venue.
    Non-profit, or for profit, business is the purview of the government and they are addressing it. Collectives and community grows are also federal attention getters, because with many plants comes the suspicion of distribution and diversion.
    The only safety is home grow, because the feds will do all they can to stop all commerce and commercial developments as long as the law provides for it.

    Even better would be to convert the entire fight to legalization of the plant all together. Otherwise, the business will remain highly at risk, and highly profitable for it, and patients will continue to lack sufficient access, in the name of safety and compassion.

  3. Kristine on

    WORN OUT, $150.00 for a drug test is nothing. My now ex-pain doc made me get this test 3-4 times a year and it had to be @ QUEST. They charge over $1,200.00 for each test. I left cause I got sick of fighting the insurance company as they said it is not medically necessary this often. I then filed a complaint with PUBLIC HEALTH and they said they have no jurisdiction and for me to take him to small claims court. What a rat race. No dispensary in CT until 2015 now? Rhode Island said they take CT card, but when I call, they say “no”. I am done with all the narcotics and not being able to have a bowl movement, the weight gain, lethargy, and the moodiness that comes with stuff that effects the central nervous system. When will CT. get there act together? I went to all the appointments, and paid for a card that is useless.

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